Patriarch Bartholomew and leader of Lutheran Church of Sweden Antje Jackelén. Photo: lutheranworld.org
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has received an award – the Plaque of St Erik – for his commitment to religious freedom, human rights and care for creation.
Archbishop Dr Antje Jackelén presented the award on 1 October 2019 to Patriarch Bartholomew during the Orthodox leader’s visit to the Lutheran Church for his commitment to religious freedom, human rights and care for creation. It is reported by The Lutheran World Federation.
The Ecumenical Patriarch is the 25th recipient of the Plaque of St Erik, honored “for his efforts to promote religious freedom and human rights, for calling the attention of the world to the needs of refugees and for across the globe showing that care for creation is an ecumenical and spiritual responsibility.” Previous recipients include representatives of the Anglican, Lutheran and Catholic Churches.
Recall that the Church of Sweden is the largest Christian denomination in the country, the largest Lutheran Church in the World Lutheran Federation and in the world. About 6 million people, or 59.3% of the population of Sweden, are members of the Church, but only 2% attend church services weekly. The Primate of the Church is Archbishop Antje Jackelén, the first female archbishop in Sweden. She is married to Heinz Jackelén, a retired priest.
In 2007, the Church of Sweden began to bless same-sex marriage and allowed the ordination of gays and lesbians. On November 1, 2009, the Church began to register same-sex marriages, becoming one of the first Churches in the world to move away from the concept of heterosexual marriage as traditional.
On November 8, 2009, an open lesbian, 55-year-old Eva Brunne, was ordained in the Church of Sweden as a bishop of Stockholm. Brunne, living in a same-sex marriage with Gunilla Linden (also a Lutheran priest), became the fifth female bishop in Sweden and the first open lesbian to take up the post of bishop in the Lutheran Church.
In 2018, a Swedish schoolgirl and environmental activist Greta Thunberg was proclaimed ‘successor’ of Jesus Christ in one of the Church parishes. A relevant statement was made on Twitter at the end of 2018, but after the girl’s speech on September 23, 2019, in New York, at the UN Climate Summit, it was extensively discussed again.
As reported by the UOJ, earlier the Church of Sweden called on the clergy to use a gender-neutral language when referring to the supreme deity, to refrain from using the word “Lord” and recommend the less specific option “God”.